Wednesday, June 20th
Wednesday morning I headed out for some breakfast. The B&B I stayed at gives you a ticket for breakfast. You can choose one of three places listed on the card. The one I wanted to eat at was closed and so I went to the Bar Sport Caffè. The most handsome Carabiniere came in and stood next to me as we had our coffees at the bar. I kept trying to steal a few glances without making it too obvious. I was not brave enough to take picture but I can still remember every detail.
After breakfast, I went back over to Il Girasole to see if Alessandra was there. The rolling green door was open but the regular doors were still locked. I peered into the window and a man, who I later found out was her husband, came up to me to tell me that the shop was not open yet. I explained that I was another Slow Traveler and wanted to meet Alessandra. He insisted that I wait right there while he made a phone call. Actually it took him a few minutes as the reception is impossible in Cortona. I thought it was just my phone service but I later found out it is the town. It reminded me so much of the “Can you hear me now?” commercial. I actually tried to explain the commercial to a few people but no one got it. Anyways, he finally reached Alessandra and I told her that I needed to catch the bus that was leaving soon for Arezzo and that I would return around 3 pm.
I walked to the bus stop and sat on one of the park benches to wait for the bus. This man who was also sitting on the bench asked me in Italian if I was a tourist. I told him that I was from Hawaii. He told me that he was from Canada and then we both switched to English. I was very lucky to meet him as I would never have found the train station without him. We chatted on the ride down on the bus and also at the train station for a few minutes before our trains arrived. He was going to Rome and I was going to Arezzo so we took different trains. He had that accent that everyone had in the movie “Fargo” and I had the hardest time paying attention to what he was saying. All I could keep thinking of was the movie. He teaches Roman History and was off to meet some friends to go to a dig down south somewhere in Italy.
The train ride was very short. I arrived in Arezzo with a map that I picked up in Cortona. I wanted to see the Piero della Francesca exhibit and chapel and also Piazza Grande. I have always wanted to visit Arezzo after seeing the movie “Life is Beautiful”. I was so amazed with the Piazza.
I decided to take the bus back as it would end up taking almost the same time when having to wait for a bus at the train station and so before heading out into the town, I stopped at the tourist information booth and asked where the bus departed for Cortona. The man drew a little line on my map.
The are a couple of main streets in Arezzo which go straight up through the middle of the town. I kept my eye out for the bus stop and saw a blue bus at a stop which seemed to be too close to the train station to be the stop I was shown. I saw a couple of men sitting at a table outside at a bar wearing what I thought were blue bus uniforms. I asked them if the blue bus was the same bus I would take to Cortona later in the day. They said “yes” and then I asked them if I was at the Piszza Guido Monaco and showed them the map where the tourist info guy marked the bus stop. They told me that the bus stops at both stops and so I could go to either stop to catch the bus. At this point another man sitting nearby, not wearing a blue uniform who must have been eavesdropping on our conversation came over and asked me what bus I wanted to take. He pointed to a different location where a blue bus was parked insisting that I needed to catch the bus there instead of the location that the other two men pointed out. And then, a huge argument began between the men. Voices were raised and hands were flying. I tried to assure them that I understood where the bus would stop and thanked them for their help. They continued to argue as I left.
I went to the San Francesco church first to see Piero della Francesco’s work in the Capella Bacci (chapel), which was called The Legend of the True Cross. This cost was 5 euros. Then I walked to the Museo Statale d’Arte Medioevale e Moderna museum to see the Piero exhibit. I enjoyed both Piero della Francesco’s work and the exhibits in the museum, but it was not until I reached the top floor and saw the famous Duke of Urbino (I recognized him immediately) that was I “wowed”. Ok, I know that is not a word but it is late and I can’t think of the proper word to describe the moment.
After leaving the museum, I headed uphill to see the Duomo and then the Piazza Grande. The Duomo was HUGE! The piazza however was a little disappointing because much of it was roped off and there were stands placed in front of all the buildings. It surely took the “wow” out of finally seeing this famous piazza which I have wanted to see since seeing the movie, Life is Beautiful. I then realized that the bus would be leaving pretty soon. I stopped at a bar and got a slice of pizza to go and then headed down to the bus stop in the piazza where the tourist info guy showed me. The guys in the blue uniform were also correct as the bus also stopped at the bus stop that they showed me.
Every year, I bring my ginger (for bus sickness) with me to Italy and always forget to bring it with me on the day I take a bus. During the bus ride back, I was wishing I took the train instead of the bus. My stomach definitely was not happy to be on the bus.
When I got back to Cortona, I went back to see if Alessandra was still at her shop. She was there and it was exciting to meet her. She is the fourth Slow Traveler I have met. I also met Tania who runs a blog from Cortona. They both recommended il Dolce for a gelato.
After leaving Il Girasole, I wandered the town for a short while taking some photos and then bought a big bottle of water and sat on one of the park benches. I sat there for a while enjoying the view and then a much older man came and sat next to me. He asked me where I was from and told me that he was from Rimini and was on a tour and pointed to the group nearby. We had a very enjoyable chat about many things and after a while the group headed our way and saw us on the bench. Well, this required pictures from all of his “men friends” with lots of laughter all around.
Then I headed down to the gelateria, il Dolce, where I enjoyed a delicious gelato (pistachio and nocciola). After my gelato, I headed back to my room to pack. For dinner, I checked out a couple of other recommended restaurants that I wanted to try but both were closed. One restaurant had a sign saying “just married” and the other one was also on vacation. I thought about eating at Il Cacciatore but decided on pizza since I read a review saying that Fulfuns served great pizza. I have to say that I do not agree at all with that review. I thought the pizza was terrible. Still, I had a wonderful day exploring Arezzo and more of Cortona.